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Parties disagree over who filed first for local mayor

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

A Platte City mayoral candidate is questioning the definition of one simple word in a city ordinance.

According to Melody Doescher, absent and unavailable, as referred to in city Ordinance No. 1272, do not signify the same meaning.

Doescher has been in communication with city officials since filing for mayor about the terminology they have chosen to use in their declaration of candidacy policy.

At the center of the dispute is ballot order of candidates. Ballot order in city elections is determined by which candidate's filing candidate was completed and accepted by city staff first.

Incumbent Mayor Dave Brooks will be at the top of the ballot. Doescher will be listed second.

According to Doescher, city hall may not accurately be representing Ordinance No. 1272, which appoints City Collector Amy Hubbard as Deputy City Clerk in the case of City Clerk Tanya Bates’ absence.

Ordinance No. 1272, Section 2 states, “Whereas, from time to time the City Clerk, who also serves as Election Official under Section 110.070, may be unavailable, the Deputy City Clerk is authorized, in the absence of the City Clerk, to perform the duties of City Election Officials including but not limited to accepting declaration of candidacy for City office.”

The ordinance was passed on Nov. 12, 2002.

According to Doescher, when she filed her declaration of candidacy with the city, Hubbard was the one to take her declaration while Bates was in the office.

Doescher states that Bates was not busy at the time she was completing her paperwork for candidacy, nor was she with anyone when Doescher entered city hall.

“We have ordinances for a reason and let's follow those ordinances,” said Doescher. “I don’t think they should interpret the ordinances the way they want to interpret them, but follow the ordinances the way they are stated.

“Tanya is the city clerk and she should have been the one to accept the declaration of candidacy. I don’t have a problem with Amy accepting declarations if Tanya is ‘absent,' however if she is not, I would expect her to follow the city’s ordinance.”

However, according to City Administrator Keith Moody, after discussions with both Bates and Hubbard, he has determined there was no inappropriate action taken.

“My understanding is Dave Brooks filed prior to Melody Doescher and that’s been confirmed by both Amy and Tanya. The time and date at which both applicants placed their application was placed on the application, so they each saw the date and time,” said Moody.

Moody does not deny that Bates was in the office when Doescher was there to file her candidacy, however he indicates she was busy processing Brooks' declaration.

“Amy is also named as a deputy so she can also receive declarations of candidacy. For the sake of customer service, allowing Melody to go ahead and file as soon as possible instead of waiting for her to complete Dave’s filing, Amy went ahead and handled it,” stated Moody.

“According to our city attorney that’s appropriate and per our board of alderman, they don’t feel any clarification of establishing Amy as deputy is necessary.”

Hubbard said, “We followed all city ordinances and applicable election rules in accepting declarations of candidacy and we have confirmed that with legal counsel.”

City Attorney Keith Hicklin sent a letter to Doescher stating that the two words, absent and unavailable, do mean the same in the context of City Ordinance, No. 1272, Section 1.
Section 1 states, “Amy Hubbard, City Collector for the City of Platte City, is hereby appointed to serve as Deputy City Clerk under Section 110.070 of the City Code.”

“I have now received a copy of a letter from the city attorney stating that the word absent doesn’t really mean absent, it also means unavailable. I have looked for these words in three different dictionaries and not one of them show the word absent means unavailable,” said Doescher.

“I think I would like to see the city attorney put out an explanation on all the other ordinances and laws in this city that might have hidden meanings or represent something the common person would never think.”

Doescher said she just wants to see city hall take responsibility for their actions and respect their own ordinances.

“They need to follow ordinances at city hall. I want them to do their jobs and do them correctly,” stated Doescher.

“My whole reason for running for mayor is for the citizens of this town. We want a city hall that’s a fair city hall and that follows their policies and regulations.”


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